Depending on a patient's history and the results of any allergy testing, measures to reduce exposure to allergic substances is an important part of asthma management. This will help reduce the amount of medications needed to control asthma.
Treatment of underlying medical conditions
Chronic sinus problems, acid reflux (heartburn), obesity and other conditions may cause or aggravate asthma. It is important that these problems be addressed in order to have ideal control of asthma. Because viral infections are common triggers of asthma, yearly flu vaccinations are recommended for patients with asthma.
There are two basic categories of asthma medications — relievers and controllers. Relievers are commonly called rescue inhalers or bronchodilators, which temporarily relieve symptoms by relaxing constricted bronchiole tubes. These are typically used only when needed. Controllers are anti-inflammatory medications, which prevent or heal the inflammation inside the bronchiole tubes. These are generally used every day as a preventive medication. Most patients with asthma will require a bronchodilator for occasional, as-needed use. In patients with more persistent or chronic asthma, daily preventive therapy with an anti-inflammatory controller medication is necessary. Occasionally, patients with milder asthma will require anti-inflammatory therapy for short periods as with respiratory infections or during their allergy season. Most patients, however, do best with year-round use of these preventive medications.
Allergy immunotherapy injections
Allergy injections are the most effective long-term preventive strategy for the treatment of allergies. For many people, allergies are a significant trigger of asthma. Aggressive control of their allergies can decrease the amount of asthma symptoms they experience. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) help build up tolerance to the exact items to which someone is allergic. It can improve asthma directly by reducing the sensitivity of the lungs to inhaled airborne allergens which can contribute to airway inflammation. Also, it can indirectly improve asthma by reducing inflammation of the nasal and sinus passageways, thereby re-establishing the normal filtration and humidification of inspired air so important for lung health. Control of environmental allergies can decrease the amount of infections, which are a major asthma trigger. The length of treatment depends on the nature and severity of the allergy.
Patients whose asthma symptoms interfere with work, school, recreation or sleep and who are allergic to substances that are hard to avoid should seriously consider injections for long-term control.
See an allergy/asthma specialist when:
- You have developed complications of allergies, such as asthma, sinusitis or ear infections.
- You have persistent symptoms of allergy/asthma that have required frequent clinic or emergency room visits.
- Your present allergy/asthma medications no longer work.
- Symptoms of allergy/asthma negatively affect the quality of your life.
- You want to be tested to determine the cause of your allergy symptoms.
For more information, contact us at 715-838-5286.